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Stocks Finish Little Changed

Crude rises after terrorists try to bomb a major Saudi refinery.

Updated from 4:16 p.m. EST

Stocks closed little changed Friday as the markets endured an uneasy session that featured a weaker-than-anticipated government report on durable goods orders and a failed attempt to bomb a major oil refinery in Saudi Arabia.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell 7.37 points, or 0.07%, to 11,061.85, after being lower by as many as 55 points earlier. The

S&P 500

gained 1.64 points, or 0.13%, to 1289.43, and the

Nasdaq Composite

tacked on 7.72 points, or 0.34%, to 2287.04. Both reversed earlier losses.

"In the face of geopolitical tension and oil up almost 4% for the day, the market held up extremely well," said Barry Hyman, equity market strategist with Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum. "Today could've been a nasty day, but everything still performed well. This was a decent end to a lackluster week."

For the holiday-shortened week, the Dow fell 54 points, or 0.5%, and the S&P 500 added 2 points, or 0.15%. The Nasdaq managed to gain 5 points, or 0.22%, for the week.

"Internal market action remains strong with few weak stocks to be found," said Ken Tower, chief market analyst with CyberTrader. "The old high is acting as resistance, and traders will glean some insight into the balance between supply and demand by observing whether the S&P can make a new high. A bounce from here would go a long way toward re-establishing the Nasdaq's uptrend."

About 1.44 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers beating decliners by a 5-to-3 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was 1.57 billion shares, and losers edged winners 8 to 7.

The 10-year Treasury was down 4/32 in price to yield 4.57% and is 15 basis points below the two-year note's yield. The dollar was lower against the yen and euro.

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Before trading got under way, the Commerce Department said durable goods orders unexpectedly fell 10.2% in January, reversing December's 1.8% gain. Economists had expected a decline of 2%. Excluding aircraft and nondefense capital goods, orders were up 0.6%, the third straight monthly gain.

Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst with S.W. Bach, said the report was "a really weak surprise. Without transportation the report wasn't too bad, but it appears that this volatile number, which could be revised, could sway the

Federal Reserve

that the economy might not be as strong as it has thought."

Crude oil rose for the first time in three days as violence loomed once again in big producer Nigeria and a plot to bomb a major refinery in eastern Saudi Arabia was disrupted. Reports indicated that Saudi police had prevented an attack by bombers driving three explosives-laden vehicles. Crude for April delivery advanced $2.37 on Nymex to close at $62.91, a 2.6% gain for the week.

To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here


On the political front, talk of U.S. port security continued to make headlines after

Dubai Ports World

said it would segregate the U.S. operations it's acquiring in its buy of Britian's


in a bid to quell national security concerns. Some in Congress have clashed with the White House on whether an Arab company should oversee vital domestic infrastructure in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Dow component



was trading higher even after Friedman Billings Ramsey dropped its rating on the chipmaker to market perform from outperform, citing canceled orders and a loss of market share to rival

Advanced Micro Devices


. The firm also slashed its stock price target to $23 from $31.

Intel gained 7 cents, or 0.3%, to $20.36. Meanwhile, AMD advanced 15 cents, or 0.4%, to close at $40.54.

Shares of BlackBerry maker

Research In Motion


were moving up as the company began its argument before a judge in the patent infringement trial brought on by


. The trial is expected to yield a decision by early next week. RIM jumped $4.52, or 6.5%, to $74.05.

Earnings reports late Thursday were mixed.

H&R Block


dropped 8.7% after cutting its fourth-quarter earnings forecast, citing a weak start to tax season. Shares fell $2.18 to $23.01.



slid 3.5% after saying February's traffic was down double digits from the year-ago level. In the fourth quarter the retailer earned $337 million, or 39 cents a share, down from $378 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago. The profit report was in line with the Thomson First Call consensus. Gap finished down 67 cents to $18.43.

Meanwhile, mall developer



rose after putting itself on the block and big box retailer



posted a strong fourth quarter.

On Thursday, stocks closed lower as inflation questions lingered and banks, semiconductors, housing stocks and drugmakers drifted. The Dow shed 68 points, or 0.6%, to 11,069. The S&P 500 lost 5 points, or 0.4%, to 1288, and the Nasdaq fell 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2279.

Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 ending up 0.4% to 5856 and Germany's Xetra DAX down 0.1% at 5858. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei was little changed overnight at 16,102, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3% to 15,856.